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The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) has launched the WELL Health Safety Rating for all building and facility types.

It is an evidence-based, third-party verified rating focusing on operational policies, maintenance protocols and design strategies to address a post COVID-19 environment.

The WELL Health-Safety Rating is one of the earliest outcomes of the IWBI’s Task Force on COVID-19, a  group of nearly 600 public health experts, virologists, government officials, academics, business leaders, architects, designers, building scientists and real estate professionals, which was established in late March to help guide IWBI’s response to the pandemic.

The WELL Health-Safety Rating provides a centralized source and governing body to validate efforts made by owners and operators.

It leverages insights drawn from the IWBI COVID-19 Task Force, in addition to guidance on the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections developed by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and leading academic and research institutions, as well as core principles already established by IWBI’s WELL Building Standard.

Participation in the program requires submission of policies, protocols and strategies for third-party document review and annual verification, according to IWBI chair and CEO, Rick Fedrizzi.

“The WELL Health-Safety Rating is a sign of confidence that measures have been enacted to help support the health and safety of people entering spaces of all kinds, and that those measures have been mapped to scientific evidence and verified through a third-party review process,” Fedrizzi said.

“By drawing on the proven strategies in WELL, we’re working from the best science available and that’s more important than it’s ever been.”

The WELL Health-Safety Rating will begin accepting registrations this month from all types of buildings and facility typologies, including offices, restaurants, hotels, retail establishments, manufacturing plants, warehouses, sports stadiums, arenas, theatres and other entertainment venues, schools, multi-family housing, and many others.

IWBI president, Rachel Gutter, said current WELL-registered projects and WELL Portfolio participants can earn the WELL Health-Safety Rating as part of their already established certification efforts.

“Our buildings and the people who tend them are our first line of defense for keeping us safe and healthy,” Gutter said.

“The current pandemic has confirmed that health is a material economic consideration of the first order. These two simple truths stand at the nexus of our work to date and will, along with the hard evidence that is mounting, inform all our decisions about the critical need for better buildings, more vibrant communities and stronger organizations going forward.”

The WELL Health-Safety Rating is the first of many anticipated outcomes informed by the work of the IWBI COVID-19 Task Force that will be introduced in the coming months.

Members of the Task Force include 17th Surgeon General of the United States Dr. Richard Carmona, former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, UCLA’s Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Harvard School of Public Health’s Joseph Allen, and environmental scientist Allen Hershkowitz Ph.D., among others.

The 17th Surgeon General of the United States, Dr Richard Carmona, said the task force has received overwhelming support and input from all over the world.

“People are learning that buildings themselves can be powerful vehicles for protecting and improving public health,” he said.

“All of us individually have a responsibility to the collective whole to use every tool, including our buildings and our sense of community, to keep ourselves and those we care about safe.”

The IWBI is currently developing Guidelines for Preparedness and Prevention, Resilience and Recovery in relation to COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. The Guidelines will provide insight into how the current strategies have evolved, as well as indicate areas where further work is required.

Registrations under the WELL Building Standard have already surpassed 550 million square feet across 62 countries. The WELL Building movement has been further amplified by over 11,000 WELL Accredited Professionals (APs) and registrants across the globe.

 

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